Veteran journalist and former Recorder publisher Eunice Trotter, will join the ranks of other noted Hoosiers in the field this weekend as she is inducted into the 52nd class of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.
“She truly represents the best of the profession with a lifelong career reporting, writing and editing in many newspapers,” said longtime friend and Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame Executive Director, Larry Taylor. “Trotter has educated, entertained and changed our understanding of the communities in which she worked. She has had a significant impact on political, social and cultural life and that’s why we’re recognizing her.”
When asked why she chose journalism as a career path, Trotter shared that the decision was borne of both happenstance and desire.
“I think the ability to tell stories. Everybody has a story, everybody…no exceptions. That ability is what attracted me,” she said. “When I was a little girl I used to write stories and I think as I got older and learned about some of my own ancestors who were journalists, I began to take a look at that profession.”
Trotter’s family and the family of Recorder founder George P. Stewart have shared connections and roots in the city of Vincennes, IN. As a young woman, she volunteered at the Indianapolis Recorder and even had her first piece of journalism, a Teen Talk column, published in the Recorder. A great uncle and her grandfather Henry Martin wrote for the Recorder as well.
She also grew to understand the power of the pen and how it could make a difference. “I was hooked from then on,” she said.
Trotter, who was the first Black woman to serve as an editor for the Indianapolis Star, initially had her sights set on police work.
“I was actually going to be a policewoman and work with juveniles,” she recalled.
Trotter’s plan was derailed when she got into a potentially violent altercation with a woman at a hospital. Trotter, who was 19 at the time, was taking her child to see a doctor and in the parking lot, the two exchanged words following a traffic incident. The woman threatened her and brandished a knife. Feeling unsafe, Trotter pulled a pistol out on the woman. She attempted, and failed, to conceal the weapon under a wig she was wearing and was subsequently arrested on a misdemeanor charge.
“I thought that would ruin my chances of being a police woman,” she said. “I thought my life was over but little did I know, that’s not what God would have for me.”
Trotter, who currently serves as communications specialist at American Senior Communities, studied journalism at Indiana University and Martin University before taking the helm at the Indianapolis Recorder in 1987.
After selling her interest in the Recorder to late publisher William G. Mays, she worked at a number of national publications before she settled at the Star for a 9-year stint. Trotter left the Star in 2011 and has been with American Senior Communities since.
Among her career highlights, time spent in New York City at The Post during the early 1990s stands out. “I thought that was quite the accomplishment to be in that market,” she said.
The Hall of Fame honor is another high point.
“I am really happy and honored that I am receiving this while I am still alive because so many honorees aren’t recognized until after their death,” said Trotter. “I hope that it will be seen as an example for other African-American journalists.”
Other Black HOF Inductees
Barbara Boyd (Inducted, 2000)
Barbara Boyd rightfully holds a place as one of Indiana’s most distinguished journalists. Her 25-year stint as WRTV’s consumer reporter and anchor was one that broke new ground in the city and round the nation. Boyd grew up in Evanston, Ill. and had aspirations of being an actress. But that dream of television would not come to fruition until 1969, when Boyd was age 40. She joined WFBM as one of the few women in television and as the first African-American on air in Indiana.
Lillian Fox Thomas (Inducted, 2014)
In 1900, Black journalist and activist Lillian Thomas Fox shattered the class ceiling. Hired by the white male-dominated and white-owned Indianapolis News, Fox became the first African-American writer for a white newspaper in Indiana. She wrote a regular column and features about the nearly 16,000 Black Hoosiers then living in Indianapolis.
John Jacob Oliver (Inducted, 1988)
Mr. Oliver earned the honor because of his role as former president of the Afro-American Co., a Baltimore-based newspaper chain with circulation in many cities along the East Coast. In this and other managerial roles, he was among those responsible for the Afro-American being able to publish news of interest to Blacks, particularly at a time in this country when other newspapers gave little attention to their interests.
William J. Raspberry (Inducted, 1993)
William J. Raspberry was an urban affairs columnist for The Washington Post. His twice-weekly column was nationally syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group. Raspberry joined the Post in 1962 and held a variety of positions until he began his urban affairs column. From 1956 to 1960, he was a reporter-photographer-editor for the Indianapolis Recorder. He then served two years in the U.S. Army.
George P. Stewart (Inducted, 2004)
George Pheldon Stewart, the son of William H. and Josephine Stewart, was born March 13, 1874, in Vincennes, Indiana. In 1894 George Stewart moved to Indianapolis. He married Louisville native, Fannie Caldwell, in September 1898. Stewart, who learned much of the printing trade from his older brother, Charles, cofounded the Indianapolis Recorder with Will H. Porter. The forerunner of the Recorder was a one-page sheet known as The Directory.
Marcus Stewart, Sr. (Inducted, 1974)
Stewart, the son of George Pheldon and Fannie Caldwell Stewart first began working for the Indianapolis Recorder while in high school. In 1928 he became editor of the Recorder and bought out another Black-oriented paper, the Indianapolis Ledger. In the early 1930’s Stewart bought out another Black newspaper, the Indianapolis Freeman, which was started in 1887 and at one time had been the country’s most widely circulated B